The spread of wind farms across Scotland is failing to create jobs, it was claimed last night. Only a handful of young people have secured Government-backed apprenticeships related to wind turbine operations, according to new figures published by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.
The figures raise questions about SNP claims that thousands of jobs will be supported by the drive for green energy.
The Scottish Government is committed to creating 25,000 ‘modern apprenticeships’ in each year of the present parliament to tackle soaring youth unemployment.
However, in a written answer to an MSP’s question Mr Ewing said only 20 of these apprenticeships were in ‘wind turbine operations’ in 2011/12.
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont, who had tabled the question, said: ‘Alex Salmond has already tried to mislead the people of Scotland about just how fruitful the wind energy sector is for jobs.
‘Now we learn the SNP’s pet project is not only destroying landscapes across the country, but failing to pull anything like its weight when it comes to creating opportunities for young people.
‘If the Scottish Government is determined to push ahead with this march of turbines, the least it could do is make sure some good comes of it i n terms of employment.
‘We constantly hear how good for the economy renewables are, yet this is more evidence that we simply cannot believe what the SNP tells us on this.’
Mr Ewing’s figures show that 3,128 apprentices started in engineering and related roles in 2011/12. He said it was not possible to identify how many of these were related to the renewables industry.
In November, Alex Salmond was accused of misleading MSPs after it emerged that he had exaggerated the number of jobs created by green energy. He claimed at First Minister’s Questions in October that 18,000 people are employed directly by the renewable energy industry north of the Border.
The official record of proceedings was changed less than a month later when it was pointed out that the true figure was only 11,000 people.
Industry figures suggest that there were 11,136 people employed by the renewables industry in 2011/12.
Of these, 2,235 related to onshore wind and 943 to offshore wind.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘According to industry estimates, there are more than 11,000 people employed in the renewable energy sector in Scotland, which has attracted £2.8billion of investment since the start of 2009.
‘These 20 modern apprenticeships (MA) are attributed directly to wind turbine operations and do not take account of how many more of the engineering-related MA starts are linked to the wider renewables sector.’
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